What are the main things that we should be grateful for but are most likely to take for granted? Do we ever even think about them until they are under threat?
When prompted recently to think of five things I am most grateful for it was good to stop and consider those things upon which a rich and worthwhile life is built around.
We’ll all have different answers, and these can change slightly on any given day, but I imagine they would come down to similar basics which we all would suffer from if one were missing from our everyday lives.
So here are my five things I’m grateful for today, right now.
I only have a small family and all except me live around 140 miles away in beautiful Cumbria. It’s true to say we have taken a bit of a battering over the last decade with the loss of parents and a marital breakdown. There have been rough times and challenges remain. The geographical distance between myself in Merseyside isn’t helpful except sometimes when it can sometimes give a bit of perspective.
My family are the first people I think of telling when a song of mine does well or my writing advances, and the first people who will pick me up when I hit a setback or frequent drop in belief.
So family is the first thing I am grateful for, and I would imagine for many of you it will be the same. Or maybe you would substitute friends above family; for you it may be difficult to differentiate between the two.
I live about half a mile from a major hospital and most days I drive past it. When I need to stop at the traffic lights opposite, I can see a little into some of the wards that serves as a reminder that no matter what stresses I have in my normal day it’s still better than being in one of those ward beds.
Good health gives me the strength to earn my upkeep, to see friends and family, to keep fit and in turn feed my mental health, to go to the cinema, see gigs, to write, to go to sporting events. In short, do all of the things that I naturally love to do.
When our health dips life becomes harder, sometimes scarier, and smaller. When health is good, we probably need to be more grateful.
For us in the Western world, our freedom is arguably the one thing we probably appreciate the least because we’ve not known anything different. The freedom to vote for the principles we believe in, our freedoms to state our beliefs even if they are at odds or even reprehensible to others, to travel, to advance our learning and our earning potential.
I sometimes look to the highly restricted and often brutal regimes of North Korea, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Nigeria and too many other places and can’t help but think we have no real appreciation of how lucky we are.
Where we are born is in many ways a lottery and I try to remind myself often that I am one of the highly fortunate winners.
According to recent statistics from the Homeless Link , 268,560 households were at risk of or experienced homelessness between 2020-21, a 7.4% increase from the previous year and over 16% from 2018-19.
Shelter is one of the basic requirements of life all that should be available to all. Sadly, as we see from these figures; and for a myriad of different reasons, this is not the case.
For every day of my life, I have had a warm home to return to, four walls and a roof.
It may be need of a little TLC but as I walk through my front door each day I should consider all those for whom this a significant blessing currently out of reach.
Some people don’t like music. They don’t really get it. Professor Steve Pinkman once described music as ‘auditory cheesecake…as far as biological cause and effect is concerned, music is useless.’
Erm, pardon me?
Music, to quote sadly passed songwriter John Miles, was my first love, and it will be my last. It gets me dancing embarrassingly around a kitchen, it lifts my mood instantly at the end of a crappy day, it helps make tedious jobs bearable, it takes me back to a time and to people no longer in my life and makes them feel within touching distance, and it has me singing with strangers.
Dementia patients who may not recognise the names of their own offspring can suddenly pick long-ago written lyrics out of the air and recite them in melody word for word. If that isn’t a biological cause and effect, tell me what is.
Music is an indefinable, inexplicable, ever-giving fountain of joy.
So, those are the everyday blessings I should be most grateful for. What then, are yours?